My first thoughts were of a day of advanced preparations in which there was plenty of time for work alongside the cooking. Part of the labor-saving was in not cooking a turkey. In the end, however, the cooking ate the entire day.
On Thursday, in Canterbury, I bought the Crown Prince squash for the tart, a large, hefty pale green one which the vendor assured me was tastier than pumpkin. He also sold me the fennel bulbs. I lugged them around town, and the hours back to home.
On Saturday, we returned several times to different grocery stores. For the last trip, C. went back just to buy plain sugar. We had caster sugar, light brown sugar, dark brown sugar - but not enough plain sugar. I didn't have the heart to go out again when I realized we only had wholegrain, mill-ground flour - and so I made white sauce with brown flour, not realizing the humor of it until lazyknight pointed it out. We used the squash tart recipe my sister once sent me, and the cranberry sauce recipe my mother had demonstrated on Monday.
And so we ate. Roast duck legs, roast fennel, squash and cheese tart, green bean casserole (with "white sauce"), stuffing with celery and chesnuts, cranberry sauce, wild rice salad, orange-ginger-cream sauce. We paused for an hour's recovery before pushing on to a decadence of gingerbread trifle, rich with smooth, full-bodied cream and mulled wine-softened fruit, dappled with crunchy chocolate-coated toppings - not just decorative - thanks to rosamicula's culinary genius. Fruit salad. Amaretti. Galler's "Volcaniques" chocolate range, with delicate touches of pepper or chilli or smokey Lapsang Souchong.
The worst of the rain rumbled down while we ate. Friends tested out our still-new sofa. The wood-burning stove warmed the entire house for perhaps the first time. ewtikins let us keep the quince bucket, due to now having a surfeit of buckets herself and brought us sloe jelly. Today, I had trifle for breakfast.